Author: Adrian Spratt
Genre: Literary thriller
In 1980s New York City, young lawyer Nick Coleman meets free spirit Caroline Sedlak in an evening fiction writing course. A vivacious fixture at a Greenwich Village bar, she remains mysterious about her life until their teacher reads her story submission to the class, and Nick realizes that a darker past lurks beneath her happy-go-lucky exterior. This doesn’t trouble Nick, who struggles with demons of his own: as a blind lawyer launching his career prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act, he struggles to prove himself at a law office that handles appeals for indigent convicted felons.
Nick’s practical, goal-driven approach to life balances Caroline’s quixotic nature, and their friendship soon deepens into something more. For some time, they’re happy together. But as the two become closer, Nick’s reluctance to commit collides head-on with Caroline’s need to be loved and belong. Soon, they realize that Caroline hasn’t left her past far behind after all … and the behavior that Nick once found charming first frustrates, then terrifies him. As the two spiral toward an inevitable clash, Nick must choose between the life he thought he wanted, and the woman he can’t bring himself to admit he loves.
After a day at the office, Nick attends the first class of a creative writing course at the New School where he finds himself sitting next to a woman.
When Stern wished us goodnight, I opened my braille watch's crystal to find it was eight o'clock on the nose, just when the class was scheduled to end. I was about to fall in with the herd scrambling to the door when my neighbor said, "Shall we go down together?"
By the time she was at my side and I'd taken her arm, the herd had left. We didn't speak as we descended the staircase, but when we reached the ground floor, she said, "What do you think of Stern?"
"Lives up to his name—rigid, militaristic—don't you think?"
"I hope you aren't going to drop the course."
"Oh, I'll stick it out."
Outside on the sidewalk, she said, "I'm going to the right. How about you?"
"The 14th Street stop of the 2/3 train."
"It's on my way. I'll go with you, if that's okay."
The late summer's evening bordered on stifling, but it was good to be outside.
"It can't be easy to do creative writing on top of a full-time job," she said.
"The suit gives me away, I know."
"Actually, it's the briefcase," she deadpanned.
I smiled. "Well, before you ask …" I owned up to being a lawyer, and not only a lawyer, but one who represented people who have been convicted of crimes.
"We handle their appeals. What about you? What do you do to make ends meet?"
"Oh, this and that."
I would have pursued it, despite sensing her reluctance to elaborate, but we'd reached my subway entrance.
I offered my hand. "I'm Nick—Nick Coleman."
She pressed my hand. "Caroline. Same time, same channel next week?"
Setting off down the steps, I reflected how at introductions, men say their full names while women offer only their first. If she eventually told me, it would be a sign of trust.
I'd reached the landing when she called down, "It's Sedlak. Caroline Sedlak."
Grinning, I turned and raised a hand in acknowledgment.
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Adrian Spratt practiced law for twenty years, mainly in consumer protection, before returning to his first love, fiction writing. He graduated from Amherst College and earned his law degree from Harvard. Retinal detachment led to his loss of vision when he was thirteen. Today, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the artist and photographer Laura Rosen.
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His website, where he maintains a blog and showcases selected stories, essays and memoir excerpts, is www.adrianspratt.com.